TT Stern-Enzi on Growing the OTR International Film Festival

Nearly 100 films from more than 15 countries come to OTR venues in October.

After 20 years as a film critic, TT Stern-Enzi knows successful film festivals. So when the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival wanted to expand its theme of diversity beyond a singular focus on disabilities, he was the perfect consultant. Stern-Enzi and his team worked tirelessly to improve the festival’s curation and further include the community. The OTR International Film Festival now features 80-plus films by filmmakers from more than 15 countries at venues like the Woodward Theater and the Art Academy of Cincinnati Oct. 2–6.

Illlustration by Zachary Ghaderi

Why have an international film festival?
There are a lot of people in the area who are making their own films, but this is the only city I’ve spent this much time in that doesn’t have a film center or an art house in its urban core. Film is such a democratic art form and we have strong fine arts and performing arts taking place in the city, so for film to not be a part of that is something we need to work on.

What sets it apart from other film festivals in the city?
Every festival in town hits some niche audience, but I think for us the idea is trying to bring that all together. The idea is diversity and inclusion and finding ways to make sure we see the connections in how these film narratives can unite us.

How will the festival emphasize intersectionality?
When finding these films, we weren’t locked into [one theme]. It’s one of those things where you can have a film about gender identity and faith and also have elements of disability or race. You can hit on those different themes with the same film and bring in different audiences to have a shared experience.

How have you included local businesses?
We will be doing parties at certain venues that are closely linked to the theaters, where people can spend a day watching movies and then have a drink, get a bite to eat, and talk to others about [what they watched].

What are your long-term goals for the festival?
Our goal is to make sure that we are educating our community on how to attend a film festival. The films are important, but there’s also a whole extended bit of stuff that goes on and the interactions you have. Film is a communal experience.

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